The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) kicked off 10 years ago with “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk.” Since then, 18 installments and three phases of films have created a series of interconnected franchises of breathtaking scope and cemented Marvel’s place as a global entertainment powerhouse.
Marvel’s latest movie, “Infinity War,” marks the beginning of the end for one era of the MCU. In that movie and its untitled sequel, the stories of such foundational characters as Captain America, Iron Man and Thor will come to an end, while new characters like Captain Marvel will begin their cinematic journeys.
“Avengers 4” will conclude both Phase 3 of the MCU and the ongoing story arc that began 22 movies ago with the original “Iron Man” movie.
With the beginning of Phase 4, Marvel has the opportunity to take those characters left standing after the dust settles from “Avengers 4” and shift the MCU in a whole new direction. While much is still in flux, these are some of the projects that may appear in Phase 4.
1. “Spiderman” Sequel
The unnamed sequel to “Spiderman: Homecoming” is the Phase 4 film the public knows the most about. It’s the only one to have an official release date — July 5, 2019 — and as the first film to release after “Avengers 4,” it will have to both deal with the consequences of what has come before and set up everything to come.
2. “Guardians of the Galaxy 3”
The next installment in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise is another film whose Phase 4 release has already been confirmed.
Current rumors are focusing on the cast and characters — actor Mark Hamil and director James Gunn are potentially in talks about a role after exchanging contact info in a Twitter thread, and although he has not been confirmed to appear in this movie, “GotG 2” teased the eventually introduction of cosmic superhero Adam Warlock.
3. “Black Panther” Sequel
After the staggering success of “Black Panther,” a sequel was all but inevitable. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed in March that, not only is a sequel on the way, but there are already a lot of ideas on the table for the direction it will take.
This early in the development process there are no details on what that direction might be, but a further exploration of Wakandan history and culture, as well as an exploration of how Wakanda recovers after “Infinity War,” are both likely paths.
4. “Doctor Strange” Sequel
With “Doctor Strange,” Marvel showed audiences an entirely different side of the MCU: a mystical realm of magic and alternate dimensions.
While a return to that realm seems likely, and both lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch and director Scott Derrickson have expressed interest in returning, there are no concrete plans for a sequel as of yet, leaving room for Marvel to return to the idea of magic through different franchises and different characters.
5. “Black Widow” Spin-Off
Rumors of a Black Widow spin-off franchise have been circulating since the character’s 2010 introduction in “Iron Man 2.” While the project has not officially been green-lit, actress Scarlett Johansson has said she still has interest in a solo movie, and reports indicate that up-and-coming writer Jac Schaeffer is working on a script.
6. “Captain America 4”
The current Captain America, Steve Rogers, will hang up his shield at the end of Phase 3; actor Chris Evans’s contract expires at that point, and he has confirmed that “Avengers 4” will be his last movie.
In the comics, however, the title of Captain America was held periodically by Rogers’ friend, Bucky Barnes; while nothing has been confirmed, there’s every possibility that the same transfer of responsibility will happen in the MCU.